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Sen. Coons questions AG Barr's handling of Mueller report

Delaware Public Media

Sen. Chris Coons said he has concerns about how Attorney General William Barr handled the release of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference in 2016.

Barr was before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to answer questions on the Special Counsel’s report.

It said Mueller’s investigation did not establish President Donald Trump’s campaign conspired with the Russians. It also did not exonerate Trump on obstruction of justice.

But Coons said Barr’s four page letter in March obscured important information like Trump’s attempts to fire the special counsel. He points Mueller writing Barr later that month to say the letter was misleading and to release Mueller’s own executive summaries.

“I think it’s no wonder Special Counsel Mueller thought your four-page letter created public confusion about critical aspects of the results of the investigation and that that threatened to undermine the central purpose for which he’d been appointed,” he said.

It took Barr about 25 days after his March letter to release a redacted version of the report.

“I think the president’ demands to fire Mueller without cause are alarming and unacceptable," he said. "And Mr. Attorney General, not one bit of what I just described was in your March 24th letter to this committee, was it?”

Barr defended his decisions on releasing the report.

"But what I was trying to get out was the final report, and have one issuance of the complete report," he said. "I made it clear in the March 24th letter that Bob Mueller didn't make a decision, but that he felt he could not exonerate the president. 

Trump denies he tried to fire Mueller.

Coons said he’s also concerned about Barr handling the criminal cases Mueller referred to other prosecutors. And he still believes his legislation protecting special counsels from being fired without good cause is a good idea. But he has been unable to get Senate Republicans to allow a vote on his Special Counsel bill.

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